Anthony Mackie didn't have to audition for the role of Falcon because he was Marvel boss Kevin Feige's first choice.

The Hurt Locker actor made his debut as Sam Wilson/Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014, and made several appearances in the role until 2019's Avengers: Endgame, when he was handed the Captain America shield by Chris Evans' Steve Rogers.

In an interview with Variety to promote the upcoming Disney+ show, The Falcon and the Winter Solider, Feige revealed Mackie didn't have to go through a rigorous audition process like many other actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) because he was everyone's first choice.

"The first experience was him being the unanimous first choice to play the character. We just offered him the role, in my memory, he did not audition," he shared. "That’s only happened a handful of times at Marvel. Mr. Mackie was one of those times. I thought he would be great as this character. As we often do, when we’re casting, you cast for the immediate role at hand - which was Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but if it all goes well, that can grow and evolve into numerous things. You want an actor who can do it all, which of course, Anthony can."

Speaking about the decision to hand Falcon the shield, Feige explained "it seemed right" for the characters and came at a time when Disney+ was in the works and could serve as a way to explore Wilson's story.

"What had been a classic passing of the torch from one hero to another at the end of Endgame suddenly opened up our potential to tell a whole story about that. What does it really mean for somebody to step into those shoes? And not just somebody, but a Black man in the present day. That’s what Mackie and our head writer Malcolm Spellman and all of us didn’t want to shy away from," he explained.

The Falcon and the Winter Solider premieres on Disney+ on 19 March.